The last weekend of October was filled to the brim with color, energy and excitement as the residents of Carmel celebrated the town’s 100th birthday with a parade commemorating a century of rich and beautiful history with an estimated 14,000 guests present and several groups, even Carmel High School students, performing and participating.
The parade started off with the first appearance of the Wells Fargo Station Wagon in over 20 years with Carmel celebrity and former Carmel mayor Clint Eastwood riding shotgun as the parade grand marshal. The parade was followed by several floats put together by various Carmel organizations such as the Carmel Bach Festival, Carmel Women’s Club and the Sunset Center.
Besides the local organizations, elementary schools such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Carmel River School participated with colorful decorations, as well as participation by various art organizations such as the Carmel Dance Center.
Among the many efforts put together in preparation, the dance and music departments of Carmel High School played crucial roles in the parade finale, which consisted of a baby blue cake float with a massive champagne bottle with performers both on and off the float. At an intersection the parade was stopped, where CHS instrumentalists and singers played the “Birthday” song by the Beatles and dancers sprang out to join the elaborate celebration.
CHS seniors Rachael Schroeder, Mia Pak and Elise Cricchio choreographed the dancers’ performance, explaining that even though the performance was tiring and at times difficult, it was a memorable ordeal.
“It was challenging to dance and smile in the heat,” Pak says. “But once we ran to our positions, everyone pushed themselves and pulled through. I was reminded during the performance that this wasn’t about us as dancers, but about celebrating Carmel’s birthday with excitement and contagious joy.”
In addition to the thrill of performing came difficulties, especially for setting up for the instrumentalists and singers, according to CHS music teacher Brian Handley.
“The performance was fantastic; however, we ran into some issues with setting up the equipment for the instrumentalists,” Handley says. “Since we had performers in down at the intersection and others on the float on the hill of Junipero Street, it was difficult transport and navigate in a vehicle through the crowds between the two locations.”
Other issues arrived in the navigation of the float, especially sharp and uneven turns, hitting plenty of tree branches as a result. Handley even describes a comical tree branch stuck in the champagne bottle of the cake float for part of the parade.
“What I enjoyed about the event was all the people lined by the sidewalk and the hundreds of people cheering for Carmel’s 100th anniversary,” CHS junior and instrumentalist Robbie Anderson. “I feel like CHS contributed a lot to the parade, and that is a good thing since we are named Carmel High School and it would just make sense for students to put in their time and effort to make this centennial parade amazing.”
The week leading up to the parade was filled with plenty of events, but was commenced with the play commemorating the development and history of the arts, over the last 100 years in Carmel, which was introduced with a 15-minute pre-show concert performed by the CHS orchestra students on Oct. 23.
The ensemble played four songs, including a variation of “Happy Birthday,” for which Carmel mayor Steve Dallas joined in. The concert was performed in the historical outdoor Forest Theater, a unique setting considering it was the orchestra’s first time performing in outdoors.
“The audience was filled with spectators who are not usually hearing our music ensembles,” Handley adds. “Anyone involved with the arts in Carmel were there, and we received so much positive feedback, asking for ensemble to perform at other events and showing their interest in supporting our programs.”
CHS junior and orchestra member Luke DePalatis explains that opening for the show was stimulating, and to be able to play for a new audience and a more sophisticated atmosphere was extremely different, yet exhilarating.
“In total, the experience was amazing, and the smiling faces made it all worth it” Pak says. “Everyone gave their all and I think we made Carmel proud!”